| by Janie Rosman |
Less than eight hours into his first day in Tarrytown, new school district Interim Superintendent Dr. Daniel T. McCann spoke with The Hudson Independent about his vision for the district and his general goals.
“My work here really is to move the district forward, and to take care of the kids here and to ultimately make it a safe environment. Whatever good initiatives occurred, they need to continue, yet you can’t be satisfied where you are,” McCann said.
McCann addressed the district’s diversity as a strong point. “Here all kids are together from the beginning, like a family, which builds bonding and an understanding of kids who are/not like you,” he said.
Instead of focusing on what his predecessor did or didn’t do, McCann aims “to capture the energy of this organization, of a lot of capable people, and let them know that hopes and dreams are possible, too.”
The new interim superintendent spent his first day meeting the Board of Education and reviewing reports that were online “to see how things were approached, and that was very helpful to me, and I read about the successes that occurred here,” he said.
His entry plan for the months before school begins includes getting to know the district and its personnel “as fully as possible in a brief period of time” before September; identifying key issues and how they’re handled; identifying and ranking tasks in order or priority; and establishing how tasks will be accomplished after consulting with personnel and the district.
What would you like to see happen the first day of school?
“It’s an interesting question,” he reflected. “I think that I want people to see me as fair, as open-minded, also knowing I’m going to listen. The greatest strength of a school system is its school community as a whole.”
The district also has a new Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Debbie J. Hand, and Director of Human Resources Pamela T. Rourke, “and I feel fortunate to have them,” McCann said.
When he asks people about special moments in their lives, he said, “It’s nice to hear those special moments around school and raising children and seeing kids come together who are fragile and who are now confident.”
McCann praised the high school’s Career Day as a way for young people to see real people not much older than themselves in real professions. “They’re to get a look in, and become interested in, internships in hospitals, in an engineering or law firm, the city manager’s office and feel good that the day has been productive.”
Excited to be part of a school district that’s made a difference for kids and is supportive of athletics, McCann said, “I want people to know that my first impressions are very positive here. People are very caring, and they want to move things forward and not sitting in place.”
With most of his background in math and science, McCann delineated between STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and STEAM (with art). “They are two separate areas, and we need to enhance the arts in the right way and not limit it to engineering — there’s biomedical, marine science, life sciences,” he said.
It is possible to have more of a connection between the classroom and the new bridge?
“That’s an interesting question you raise,” he said. “We did a lot of work around Project Lead the Way (at Hendrick Hudson School District), and one of the strategic action plans was create greater connection within the community.”
Within sight of the high school was an engineering company that made instruments for NASA, and when approached, the company said it would love to have young people intern.
“It’s an engineering design, an extraordinary design because you’re seeing the internal structure,” he said of the bridge. “You’re really seeing structure and function and basic physics. This is why internships are important: it brings relevancy when you leave high school since there’s not the same level of support in college.”
McCann’s vision is for students to leave the school system knowing they’ve been challenged to do their best, valuing learning as a means to personal fulfillment, and for the district to be responsible for and proud of its students’ growth and achievements and seen as a valuable community cornerstone.
“I think I have a good team here,” he said. “When kids come to school and get excited, and they start an engineering club, it’s that kind of excitement that you love to build on.”